Article 50: 24th January 2017

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
There is a genuine desire, I believe, for people to come together, to support the Government, to build a consensus and to get the ​best deal possible. The reality is that we have abandoned the single market and the free movement of people without any debate in this place, never mind a vote.

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con)
We had a referendum.

Anna Soubry
Well, there was one question on the paper: leave or remain. We are leaving the European Union—that is accepted.

I take my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as a man of his word. When I voted for the two-part motion in December, I did not agree with triggering article 50 at the end of March, but I voted for the motion in the spirit that we would have a plan—I would like a White Paper—that we could debate. That would bring us together. What does my right hon. Friend have to lose by having a debate on a White Paper?

Mr Davis
Let me say this to my right hon. Friend, who passionately holds a well-formed view on these matters. First, in terms of bringing people together, a large part of the Prime Minister’s speech was aimed at creating a sense of this country that everybody can get behind, ranging from the protection of employment rights through to our role in the world, all of which is very important. Secondly, the Prime Minister laid out an incredibly clear future and a future approach for us, so I think that she did everything one could ask of a Prime Minister to deliver on our undertakings.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) talks about things that were not on the ballot paper. What was on the ballot paper was leaving the European Union. I am afraid that it is very difficult to see how we can leave the European Union and still stay inside the single market, with all the commitments that go with that. What we have come up with—I hope to persuade her that this is a very worthwhile aim—is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have, but also enable my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade to go and form trade deals with the rest of the world, which is the real upside of leaving the European Union.

Mr Davis
I thought I was really rather restrained, given that the Prime Minister was sitting here today. I could have been thoroughly oleaginous, but I was not prompted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) this time, who gave me the line about Her Majesty.

Anna Soubry
I nearly said that.

Mr Davis
Yes, absolutely. I will not rehearse all the arguments again, but I will provide whatever information I can and as much information as I can, as promptly as I can, bearing in mind that the process is likely to start next week.